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Why an Organic Mattress? Better Bed. Better Sleep.

Budgets vary from person to person. Yet, for all of us, there are some areas in which we are willing to make large investments, and others in which we try to get by as cheaply as possible; the quality of our lives, including our physical, emotional, and mental health, will depend on what these areas are for each of us. For instance, eating healthy food can sometimes be – or at least seem in the moment to be – more expensive than eating processed foods with additives and fillers, and we may be tempted to scrimp when it comes to spending extra money on healthy food. However, in the long run, the monetary cost alone of being in poor health will end up being more expensive than the money you save in the moment and, even if that were not the case, the greater expense would be worth it – your body is one of the few possessions you are guaranteed to have until the end of your life, and so it can be worthwhile spending a little extra on it if you have the means.

Many people recognize this when it comes to matters such as food health or transportation safety – vehicle purchases, for instance – yet surprisingly fewer people think of bedding and mattresses in the same way. To say the least, this is surprising, considering the amount of one’s lifetime one spends ensuring one’s body is properly rested – up to a third or your life could be spent in bed! One of the most important factors in staying healthy is the quality of the environments in which we spend significant amounts of time, and so ensuring that your bed provides deep and restful sleep without detracting from your overall health is of paramount importance.

But sleep is sleep, isn’t it? And isn’t it just a little silly to worry about the health of our beds on top of all our other health concerns? And what about people in the past, who surely got by just fine without special “healthy” beds?

Myth 1: Sleep is just sleep.

Like most of the elements and processes that are essential for our lives, the nature and function of sleep is in fact deeply mysterious. Various theories have been proposed throughout history, and modern scientists also propose a variety of complementary theories about it. However, at its core, sleep is a mystery central to human existence, an experience shared not only across racial, geographical, political, class, and sexual boundaries, but also shared with non-human creatures as well.

However, as an experience, sleep is anomalous in being one of the most important of our experiences even while being one during which, by default, we are not actively conscious. This can lead us to take the importance of sleep and our sleeping conditions for granted. This is a problem because, while scientists may not be able to explain fully the riddle of sleep, they do know from studies what you also know from personal experience – that poor sleep has a variety of repercussions on your health and wellbeing. So while one could simply dismiss sleep as sleep – that thing I’m not present for – the effects of sleep are with your body whether you are awake or asleep – and your body is with you everywhere you go.

Myth 2: Isn’t it silly to worry about the health of our beds on top of all our other health concerns?

In a media-driven society such as ours, “precaution fatigue” is indeed a problem – surrounded by so many clamoring voices telling us to be wary of so many things, one can easily be overwhelmed and give up caring altogether. This means that one has to be able to discern which precautions to ignore and which ones are trustworthy. Arguably, however, the best matters to prioritize when it comes to health are the ones that most deeply shape our lives and bodies, and sleep is certainly one of these essential matters. Along with air, food, and water, it is something we can’t live without – and our quality of sleep, as well as the materials we absorb and are exposed to during it, affect us as much as ingredient, air, and water quality. So, while we can’t have energy and time to care about absolutely everything, the issue of sleep is one that should be high on our lists when we are prioritizing.

Myth 3: No one in the past had special organic beds, and they got along just fine. Why do we need them now?

The reason organic products are sold “specially,” as they are in modern society, is because it has become normative in industrial ages to process products in ways that can introduce toxins that potentially affect us. The reason no one had “special” organic beds in the past is because organic was the default – things were made of natural material. However, most modern beds are not organic for reasons of cost and manufacturing regulations. For instance, many manufacturers fulfil fire-safety regulations by adding fire-retardant chemicals that may in fact serve their purpose against fire, but in the process introduce into mattresses toxins that affect humans; similarly, some manufacturers introduce dust-mite deterrents that likewise affect humans. Finally, there is the issue of off-gassing. This is most commonly associated with polyurethane memory foam mattresses, and involves the mattress releasing VOCs – volatile organic compounds – into the air. The most immediate and noticeable effect of this is an unpleasant smell, but, beyond this, off-gassing affects the quality of the air you breathe every night, and therefore may pose health risks. So the short answer is that people in the past didn’t have to bother about organic beds because their beds were already organic; we, however, have built a society where most beds are not, and thereby pose health risks for ourselves.

Choosing a Bed: Is It Comfortable and Durable?

By now, we hope you are at least convinced of the importance of an organic bed in maintaining your and your family’s health. But you probably still have questions. Why must they be so expensive? Wouldn’t it be easier and cheaper to make them with springs rather than pricy organic latex?

The answer is that, in the short term, a spring mattress may seem like a better deal when it comes to cash paid up front. But what you save now in money you may pay for later in comfort and replacement costs. Let me explain.

The really important part of a mattress is the support material. Good material will provide the requisite support and will be durable through extended use over a long period of time; poor material will lose its shape quickly. For instance, many mattresses use springs the way some food products use additives and filler ingredients, to fill up space. Springs may serve this purpose in the short term, but their elasticity may wear down, and in some cases they can puncture the supporting material above, thereby ruining the mattress. For superior quality, what you need to look for is a mattress made of the same quality material throughout, without “fillers” such as springs.

Why Not Memory Foam?

Memory foam might seem to be the perfect solution to the problem of poor-quality fillers, since it is possible to produce and buy for relatively low prices mattresses that are made of memory foam throughout. However, this gain in savings is compromised by a variety of known problems with memory foam. With regard to comfort, sleepers often find that memory foam is not a very breathable material, so that ventilation and heat dispersion is a problem; their sleep is affected by clingy and stifling warmth, leading to excessive perspiration and uncomfortable mugginess. Furthermore, the polyurethane material  from which memory foam is made can cause a phenomenon known as off-gassing. Off-gassing occurs when the polyurethane breaks down to release volatile organic compounds, often known as VOCs. These in turn can produce unpleasant smells, and may affect your overall health. Though the long term effects of breathing in VOCs every night is not yet known, common sense suggests that it would be more healthy to breath fresh, clean air every night rather than gases produced by the breakdown of synthetic material exposed to a variety of toxins during industrial production. In the short term, this might not sound like much of a problem, but when you recall that you will spend a good portion of your life sleeping in your bed, and think of the cumulative effects of breathing impure air every night, you will see why memory foam is not an optimal solution for healthy and comfortable sleep.

Rubber Tree - Organic LatexWhy Latex?

One remaining question you might have is, “Why latex?” While it is true that some organic mattresses are made wholly from material such as wool, the problem with these can be a lack of support; wool is soft and can easily lose its shape. The best solution to this – from an organic perspective – is to combine materials such as wool with other organic materials that add support and durability; one such material is latex. Natural latex is harvested from the lactiferous vessels of the rubber tree plant, and it has been traditionally used by the Mesoamerican peoples in South America. Among the many properties that make natural latex a perfect mattress material are its durability, resilience, breathability, support, and resistance to dust mites and microbial incursions. It is also naturally flame resistant, eliminating the need for the chemical treatments often responsible for impurities in mattress construction.

What kind of latex should I look for in an organic mattress?

When it comes to organic mattresses, there are two options with regard to production: Talalay and Dunlop. The gold standard for organic mattresses is Dunlop; the Dunlop process enables manufacturers to produce 100% certified organic latex for their mattresses. In contrast, the Talalay process is not designed or feasible for the production of 100% natural latex, and so products made from Talalay are made from a mixture of natural and synthetic latex. Talalay thus solves the problem of poor bedding material, and is a better, more durable option than regular or memory foam mattresses; with regard to support, comfort, and breathability, it is similar to natural latex. However, a Talalay mattress cannot be 100% organic.

What do I need to take care of my organic latex mattress?

Like other products, latex mattresses require a minimal level of care and maintenance for optimal use. Perhaps the two most important areas of maintenance are support and surface protection.


Due to the weight of natural latex, these mattresses require particularly strong support; their composition also requires appropriate ventilation. Because improper ventilation and support can compromise the full functionality and lifespan of the mattress, companies often make the validity of their warranties dependent on the use of appropriate supporting structures with their mattresses. It is therefore always best to use the support structures recommended by the manufacturer. Generally, these structures come in two forms. Foundations are basic box-like structures with supporting legs and no frame; this is the minimalist’s approach to mattress support. Platform beds are available in a variety of styles, and include frames, headboards, and other features of a traditional bed. When choosing foundations or platform beds, be sure to ensure their compatibility with organic latex beds. To make your decisions and shopping experience easier, we at Aviva sell foundations and platform beds compatible with our mattresses to help you choose the best support for your new mattress.

Surface Protection

Surface protection is necessary both to keep your mattress in a pristine, like-new condition, and to ensure the validity of your warranty. Even if a problem with your mattress has nothing to do with stains or spills, these can void your warranty so that a manufacturer may refuse to honour it. The best way to ensure this doesn’t happen is to use a mattress protector. Not only will this protect your mattress from spills and other stains, but some of the better mattress protectors are enhanced with silver for its antimicrobial effects as well as its ability to deter other pests such as bedbugs. Along with its organic mattresses and their appropriate supporting frames, Aviva is also pleased to offer a variety of mattress protectors to protect your mattress – and warranty – from the pernicious effects of spots, stains, and bacterial buildup.

Related Reading: How to Choose a Healthy Mattress.

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